Nukanti Foundation

FOSTERING COMMUNITIES THROUGH YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

Weaving Cazucá

Nukanti's community center in Cazucá, on the outskirts of Bogotá, made of recycled plastic bottles.

Summary of the Project

The Weaving Cazucá project provides the Cazucá neighborhood in Colombia’s capital of Bogota with an eco-friendly constructed Community Center made from recycled plastic PET bottles.

This project aims at strengthening (“weaving”) the social fabric of the community by providing the space for numerous activities which facilitate empowerment and capacity building for vulnerable groups like women, children and youths affected by extreme poverty, conflict and different forms violence.

The Weaving Cazucá project which is executed in cooperation with Green Hope Colombia, was initiated in December 2011 and is supported by the Starkey Hearing Foundation who also donated hearings aids to deaf community members.

The project has been documented as part of the “Operation Change” international media campaign in February 2012 and is going to be featured in a follow-up shoot in March 2014, contributing to a groundbreaking documentary series about inspiring development cooperation projects worldwide.

Like all of Nukanti Foundation’s projects, Weaving Cazucá is based on the organizations's core principals of local ownership, shared responsibilities and sustainability.

Project Site 

Cazucá, Bogota

The neighborhood of Cazucá falls under the administration of the Soacha municipality but is geographically located in the eastern outskirts of Colombia’s capital of Bogota.

The community, which is largely made up from informal settlements, has been growing since 1975 and is currently inhabited by about 70.000 people, roughly 10.000 of them being Internally Displaced who fled from various Colombian regions that have been affected by the country’s ongoing armed conflict.

Cazucá is one of Colombia's biggest urban slums, with a high percentage of internally displaced people (IDPs) and economic migrants 

Cazucá is one of Colombia's biggest urban slums, with a high percentage of internally displaced people (IDPs) and economic migrants 

With such a high number of Internally Displaced, the community is also marked by extreme poverty and poor access to public services like education facilities and basic sanitation. This adds to the high vulnerability of its population caused by the activities of different illegal armed groups in the area including drug and arms trafficking and the recruitment of minors.

Marginalized children and youths

Like in many “red zones” like this throughout Colombia, one of the most vulnerable groups among the population is the one of marginalized children and youths, not only are lacking education opportunities and in some cases even basic nutrition, but also being at risk for drug abuse, becoming victims of different forms of violence or getting involved in gang activities.

Marginalized youth, particularly in conflict-ridden places like this, face unique economic and social obstacles; flawed or interrupted education, language barriers, a lack of skills for employment, and often discrimination and exclusionary social environments. These factors put these young people at a serious disadvantage in terms of their individual and collective development.

The center was built with the help of the community. Here little Karina helping out in making the walls of plastic bottles filled with sand.

The center was built with the help of the community. Here little Karina helping out in making the walls of plastic bottles filled with sand.

The “Weaving Cazucá” project empowers children and youths to overcome these obstacles by offering the space for the implementation of different activities and workshops, providing them with the opportunity to gain higher levels of education, preventing them from being drawn into the vicious circle of violence, drugs and conflict prevailing in this neighborhood.

Project details

The Cazucá Community Center was built over the course of two years by local workers in a participatory process according to the needs of the community and has recently been finished at the beginninng of 2014.

The process was coordinated by Nukanti Foundation’s local representative Nohora Guerrero who is contributing to the project’s success with her valuable experience gained while serving the community as a social worker for several years prior to working with Nukanti Foundation.

Activities implemented in the Community Center so far:

After-school Tutoring

The Community Centers offers a daily After-school Tutoring program during which up to 40 children and youths (6-16 years old) are supported with their homework and other school related activities. The participants are supervised in several age groups and work on different school materials each day.

Participant of the After-school Tutoring program

The aim of this activity is to support children and youths in taking advantage of education opportunities, preventing them from early school-drop-out in order to secure their access to secondary education and thus better employment perspectives. Furthermore, these after-school activities prevent children and youths from drug abuse and/or getting involved with one of the illegal armed groups, active in the area.

Music Workshops

One of the youth leaders from the community is teaching other children and youths from Cazucá to play instruments like guitar, drums or keyboard while another one offers a Rap workshop for children (6-12 years old) and youths (12-22 years old).

Breakdance and Capoeira Workshops

Also there are Breakdance and Capoeira workshops offered to the youth of Cazucá which are part of Nukanti’s award winning “Playing for Freedom” project.  

These workshops aim at building up the participants’ self-esteem by letting them explore their creative potential while exercising their bodies in a healthy manner, at the same time offering them unique forms of self-expression.

Playing for Freedom instructors teach children in Cazuca  

Playing for Freedom instructors teach children in Cazuca  

Also, these workshops encourage children and youths to attend school by enhancing their abilities to concentrate, stay committed and letting them earn recognition through discipline. Again, these after-school activities prevent children and youths from drug abuse and getting involved with one of the illegal armed groups in the area. 

Activities to be implemented in cooperation with other organizations active in the neighborhood:

  • “Fathers School”: Especially designed workshops focusing on working with male family members, raising awareness about the problem of domestic violence.

  • “Non-violence Workshops”:  weekly community meetings focusing on the topic of non-violence and peaceful resolution of conflicts.  

  • Graffiti and photography workshops

  • Physical exercise groups for elderly persons

  • Handcraft workshops for women and children 

Capoeira Workschop in the newly built Community Center of Cazucá

Capoeira Workschop in the newly built Community Center of Cazucá

Partners